Those of us who are lucky enough to have an outdoor space to call our own, whether it be a deck, patio, or backyard, ought to take into careful consideration how best to maximize the enjoyability of the space. After all, nobody wants to be greeted with an eyesore right after leaving the house or apartment or know that they’re wasting a space that has potential for bringing relaxation, comfort, and social opportunities. But the task of transforming an out of doors space into one you can be proud of can seem overwhelming or difficult. As such, this article should serve as a reference for guiding you in your pursuit to take advantage of your property in fun and exciting ways.
As with any home renovation project, the first steps involve planning. This means taking a good look at the space in question and visualizing the impact of various changes. Also think about how you intend to use your piece of real estate. Good designs are ones that are functional and invite people to participate in specific activities. Ask yourself: is this an outdoor balcony where I’d like to host dinner parties? If you have a large backyard, should the space be meant to accommodate a small number of guests or many? Or would you prefer an area where you can spend some quality time alone, reading a book or soaking in the sun? Having an idea of one or multiple activities for your space will inform all aspects of the design process.
Also, before you start modifying the environment, make sure you have a theme in mind that matches your sense of style, and consider how the theme you’ve chosen relates to the design of your interior spaces. It can be jarring to move from an indoor space that embodies one sense of style to an outdoor space with a radically different one. If your interior design takes cues from Japanese traditions, for instance, you can install a bamboo fence outdoors with foliage to match, or if you want your space to be reminiscent of the English countryside, opt for moss-covered rocks and weathered wood seating. You’ll want to strike the right balance between making sure that your interior and exterior designs are different enough to ensure that being in these spaces feels different from each other, while not being so different that the transition between places feels random and thoughtlessly constructed.
When you’re creating designs for an outdoor space, you often have less flexibility than you would in an indoor space, as you have to contend with naturally-occurring terrain and views of surrounding properties. However, you can use this variable to your advantage by centering your designs around the most attractive elements of your property so as to highlight them. If a particular corner of the space has a great view, for example, it would be wise to install seating arrangements appropriately. If not, an area of lower elevation could make for a natural spot to gather. Installing outdoor rugs can add to the charm and character of a space with a concrete floor.
While plants and flowers can make for wonderful additions and accents to a space, they should be considered after the more practical elements of your design are finalized. If you start with choosing places to plant foliage, you may find that while the result is visually appealing at a glance, you may have sacrificed a space that could have been better used as somewhere to put chairs, a firepit, a grill, or another attraction. And before investing in plants, take into consideration how they will look from inside the house or apartment as well as outside. The same goes for other furnishings as well. Be sure to place seats somewhere that gets plenty of shade, and before installing or repositioning a grill or firepit, check with your city’s rules to ensure you are in compliance with requirements, including the distance of the feature from buildings and the size of the feature.
In addition to considering how different choices of materials influence the visual design of a space, don’t forget to also incorporate the cost of installing and maintaining these materials into your plan. As they are exposed to the elements, outdoor furnishings often require a level of care and maintenance that go beyond your first impressions, so think about how much time and money you’re willing to spend on upkeep. Make sure to do your research when it comes to different material choices. Wood furniture, for instance, lasts years but needs to be treated every season to maintain its appearance, and weather-treated fabric cushions need to be cleaned and stored at the end of the season. If you live in an area that’s prone to extreme weather events like hurricanes or tornadoes, make sure you have a plan in mind for securing your furniture to protect your safety and property as well as those of your neighbors.
If you’re ambitious enough to put in the required amount of work, creating a garden in your outdoor space can not only make for a visually appealing environment but provide you with recreation and even ingredients for your meals. Due to the amount of effort involved in maintaining a garden, you should start small and give yourself space to gradually expand the garden over time. Other outdoor features to consider include heat lamps for enjoying the space into the fall, a hammock installed either between two trees or on a porch, or a walking path to connect different elements of your outdoor area.
This article references “How to Improve Your Outdoor Space,” published by the New York Times. For more detailed advice, follow the link.